Blocking is a useful finishing technique for knitting and crochet pieces. It allows you to:
Yes, you can block pieces knitted or crocheted with any yarn. But you need to choose carefully which blocking technique suits better your material. I advise you again to check the ball band of your yarn, but in general:
At the end of the post you will find some links to products useful for blocking which are sold at Amazon, and that I believe are worthy. If you buy some of those products, I will receive a commission that helps me maintain OhLaLana!’s site. Now, let me be clear: do I urge you to buy some? Not at all! In fact, I encourage you to use resources you already have around your house and provide you some ideas in the “Materials” section for each blocking technique. Not only for your personal finances, but for our planet’s sake, it is so much better to avoid buying new things all the time when you can use what you already have or ask some friend to lend you something. But… I know that sometimes we do need to buy things and I wanted to be perfectly open and clear about those affiliate links 😊 And of course, since I decided to place them at the end of the post instead of inserting them between the information on the article, you don’t even have to look at them if you don’t want to!!
Now, let’s get to blocking, shall we?
It involves fully soaking the item with water before (wash blocking) or after (spray blocking) pinning it into position. The method you choose will depend not only of your liking but also of the size of your project. If the project is too large (a big wool poncho, for instance) you won’t find a large enough basin to contain it. And if you do, your knitting will be so heavy once thoroughly damp that you will risk damaging some yarn fibers when you take it off the water.
My recommendation is this: if you feel that you need to appeal to your bathtub to soak it, it’s a sign that you should consider Spray blocking 😉
1) Before starting, look at the ball band to check if there is some recommendation for your yarn regarding soaking time and water temperature.
2) Fill a bowl or basin with lukewarm or cold water. Add a little non-rinse wash if using.
3) Put your project in the bowl.
You can gently press the borders to help them get thoroughly wet, but don’t rub or scrub the fabric.
Let it soak for about 15 to 20 min, unless otherwise advice from the yarn manufacturer. If you have a cat friend, keep an eye on it. If you watched the BBC television series “Cranford” (based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s books), you know what I mean…
4) Drain the water and gently lift your item completely, without letting it hang so that it does not stretch unintentionally.
5) Gently squeeze out the excess water. DO NOT wring out or twist your wet knitting.
6) Lay the project out between clean dry towels and apply a light pressure to remove more water.
7) Place your knitting on a blocking mat. Spread it gently into the desired shape, or to the measurements specified in the pattern you are following and pin it into position around the perimeter.
8) Let it dry completely. The amount of time needed depends on the climate and thickness of the item, but the average is 24 hours. Sometimes the project could feel ready before this time, but the core of the fibers might not be dry. If you remove the pins before time, it could shrink back as the centers of the fibers dry and won’t get properly blocked. So, give it at least a day to be sure.
9) Remove all pins. Your project is blocked!
This option is useful to block large items that do not fit in a bowl. The procedure is the reverse of the previous one: you pin first and then you saturate the item with water. Drying takes more time than wash blocking, because in spray blocking you are not able to remove excess water. On the other hand, you need less material and probably are in less danger of making a wet mess around your house 😉
1) Before starting, look at the ball band to check if there is some recommendation for your yarn regarding water temperature.
2) Lay your project on the blocking board and stretch it to the desired shape, or measurements specified in the pattern, using the pins to secure it into place.
3) Spray the piece generously to get it quite wet. Make sure is completely wet, specially the edges. Add more pins if needed. If during the drying process there is some part that doesn’t look as you want, respray it!
4) Let it dry completely.
5) Remove pins. Your project is blocked!
This method uses steam to block items made with fibers that do not get ruined by heat. You don’t have to touch the item with the iron, so you can use this method to block very carefully your acrylic pieces.
Although many crafters use steam irons, I prefer to use a damp cloth and my iron with its steam setting off. I think the cloth provides a good barrier to prevent touching accidentally with the iron while hovering it over the knitted piece.
1) Lay your project on the ironing board, wrong side up, and stretch it to the desired shape, or measurements specified in the pattern, using the pins to secure it into place. This time try that the pins do not protrude from the project.
2) Cover the pinned item with a damp cloth, or a dry cloth and then spray it until soaked.
3) Hover the hot iron over the damp cloth, moving continuously back and forth. The water on the cloth will turn to steam and the heat and moisture will penetrate the yarn fibers.
4) Repeat the previous step as many times as necessary, spraying water on the cloth each time it gets dry (you’ll notice when you need to do it because when hovering your iron you stop listening the “fzzzzzz” of the steam building), until your knitting or crochet piece is damp and you see it relaxed into its proper shape.
5) Remove the cloth and let your project get cooled and dry completely.
6) Remove all pins. Your piece is blocked!
The effect of bloking in a knitting or crochet piece will depend largely on the elasticity of the yarn fibers and the stitch pattern:
Happy knitting. And blocking!
As I explained before, I will leave you some links to good quality products, just in case you need to buy some of them and need a recommendation. If you read this far, let me tell you that there’s no more info below regarding blocking so, feel free to skip this!!
Leave me a comment if you have any question about blocking or just want to say “hello”.
I bought the one in the photos to put below my yoga mat, and usually use it for blocking too 😊 There are cheaper alternatives like this playmat for kids, expensive kits which come with T pins like the one from Knit IQ and lots between.
I live in a tiny apartment, so the mini ironing board turned out to be amazing for me. Between uses I store it folded inside my wardrobe, behind my cloths. Just perfect.
I have used and recommend Eucalan unscented, Eucalan Lavender (I know it also comes in Eucalyptus and Grapefruit, but never tried them). They are biodegradable, non toxic and contain lanolin. Your washed pieces will get really really soft, so Eucalan is ideal to use for knitted baby cloths and blankets. To block items you don’t need to use a lot, just some drops.
I also had a great experience using a little pack from SOAK that I received from a friend. It worked great, but I don’t remember which scent it had..